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Goldman Sachs 6, America 4, New York 2, U.s. 2, Barack Obama 2, Washington 2, Latin America 2, Michele Bachmann 2, Kim Kardashian 2, Princeton 1, Twe 1, Wisconsin 1, Guardian 1, New Orleans 1, Oakland 1, Blog 1, Lampoon 1, Summa Cum Laude 1, Ncampments 1, Obama Administration 1,
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  SFGTV2    [untitled]  

    January 18, 2013
    6:30 - 7:00pm PST  

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>> good evening. welcome to tonight's meeting of the commonwealth club of california. i am your moderator for today's program. it is my distinct pleasure to introduce today's special guest. rush limbaugh. [laughter] hang on. i agree with rush that katrina is a force of nature oherself. none of the destructive capabilities, but a great deal of power.
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she brings a driving passion into her work. the flame has gotten brighter of late. we will talk about the progress of perspective -- progressive perspective. little seems to have become toxic and passe -- liberal seems to have become toxic and passe at the same time. a few years ago, the proposition we have to defend was "good riddance to mainstream media." we each had an interest in this. katrina made our case forcefully. she did it without a hint of an edge or snarky humor or even questionable taste.
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twe won and were not shy about celebrating. we were exuberant celebrators. the sense of grace combined with her intensity and style. in a world of kardashians and other circus acts in the media, she is a giant gusts of intelligence and class. it makes me feel old to say this, but i know her mom, and equally fascinating woman, a great writer. her grandfather founded the music corporation of america that defined culture and music today. having said that about her mother, i feel i should balance
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that by saying i cannot count on my fingers and toes together all of the otherwise party intellectuals and regular people who have confided [unintelligible] [laughter] i am wondering. she is the editor and publisher of "the nation." she is summa cum laude from princeton. she is here with her first collection, "fighting for progress in the age of obama." i do not always agree with her personally when it comes to politics. we are here to find out from katrina how we're going to save the world with barack obama. let's start there. [laughter] >> i do not know how you learned
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by worked at national lampoon. saving the world. let me begin by saying how low they must be to go that low in new orleans. i would not put in the same sentence president obama and saving the world. it is very much about movements and the power in our history to bring about a fundamental change. you do need people inside, political leaders inside. it captures the imagination of
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the nation. through the turbulent history, it has been movement and the power of movements. franklin roosevelt was moved by later movements. lyndon johnson had the civil rights movement. i think we begin with that. this book comes out at a moment when the country sees the power and possibility of occupy, 99%, and how that has shifted. it is still evolving. it has shifted the center of political gravity of our dialogue. the issue has been off the radar for so long.
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>> roosevelt surfed and harnessed those movements. he used them to get legislation passed to initiate programs. obama is still getting on his wet suit. to read the essay she wrote in 2008, there was a sense of exhibits -- exuberance. you say that hope is not optimism that expects things to turn out well. it seems like he confused those two things. >> i will come back to what i write about in the book. the expectations were so great and high. go back to 2008. the back to the election and year when we are fortunate region were fortunate enough to be living with debates that were not cruel reality shows.
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every week, there were debates among the democratic candidates. barack obama embodied change. it seemed he brought into politics a generation of young people and minorities who never thought of the electoral system as a vehicle for change. so many people saw in him the possibility of change that would come quickly. my sense is that it is so corroded that we need to take back a government that has been rigged against working people, ordinary people, the poor. we need to understand it will take more than one election cycle to bring about fundamental change in this country. it will take wind at the
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back of the president and political system to bring about change. president obama -- this is not a political time when roosevelt lived in. the labor movements are not as strong. today there was a story about the tea party move -- losing its mojo. we're seeing overreach that has led people to this tipping point moment where millions of people have said enough. the obscene inequality in this country colliding with downward mobility that people feel in their gut, they see it among their family and friends. that has led to this moment where there is the possibility of space. organizers can move into it.
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we could see some real change. it will not come about through just one leader. >> it helps to have a leader who is effective. >> in traveling with the book, i am reminded about what candidate obamas said when he said i am a were shocked -- rorshack. people bring to him their views of the country, their anger and pain. feel he has done what he could in a system where you have a republican party that was determined to take him down. they did not want to govern with him. my sense is that he wanted to bring a different kind of politics to the country because of the nature of who he is. you come into washington and want to play kumba ya politics.
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you look in the eyes of mitch mcconnell, jim demenint, and realize they are out to take you down. you need a plan be. there was no plan b. there was not a. it. -- there was not a pivot. he had extraordinary skills as a speaker during the campaign. he moved this country, millions of people. he angered millions and made them think he was a socialist and other matters. but he has not used those skills in a consistent, powerful way to tell a narrative about the challenges, what the country is going through, and where he is
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taking the country. by playing on the republican field of deficits and debts instead of joblessness or say we're all trying to compromise, you make people feel everyone is equally involved in a gridlock that has led to a point where congress has a lower popularity rating than the banks. that is a feat. 9%. it is dropping even though there are good people inside the congress. there is a progressive congress. they put out a people's budget. bernie sanders has exposed the fed giving out trillions of dollars in addition to the tarp bailout. >> barney frank has taken a hike. >> that is worth talking about.
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you see in this congress michele bachmann and michele bachmann one of these -- wannabe's. there are fights about redistricting. >> use of the one strength the president obama, his rhetorical skill, is not sufficient. >> it has not been used at the scale necessary in this time of crisis. america is in a crossroads. this is a moment comparable to coming out of the great depression. this was a moment coming out of the financial crisis when tectonic shifts are under way in this country. hope is not a policy. policy is a wonky word. hope needs a story, a narrative. here is what is going on in this country. president obama now is speaking
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more forcefully about what he wants to do it and against smoking out those who are obstructing. this is really wonky. anyway, i think one of the most exciting things are the movements of our times. i closed this book out before occupy. i wrote about wisconsin. our correspondent was there for 57 days. that was about occupying the state house. occupy has become a brand. it has also become e ncampments. soon it will need to be more than a space and a place. it will need to go to state houses, occupy banks, occupy
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congress. take the movement energy into those stairs -- spheres with the ideas matter of the heart of occupy. >> winter is coming. cities like san francisco and oakland and other cities are closing down the encampments and chasing people off. you can drive 90 miles from davis and pepper spray. it is hard to maintain people's attention for long periods of time. i am wondering -- should they be occupying the supreme court? [applause] >> i was talking about that today. with all respect for putting your body on the line which
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captivated the imagination in the beginning, it now needs to be less about states and place -- spaces and places and more about going to wear in justice -- injustice is. there are plans to occupy the supreme court from the second anniversary of the citizens united decision. that crazy decision has given the rights to corporations to unleash their treasuries into our already polluted political system. go there. go to your local congresspersons office. go to banks charging student loans up the highest rates. go to those places. i think we will see more of that. occupy congress means not only
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closing out the super committee. it also means finding movement candidates who will run in the electoral office. this is where people get ammocete -- antsy because they say you are taking over the energy of the occupy movement. we need good people to run. >> union unity of purpose if you are going to get anything done. my wife and i ran at an event for gloria steinem recently. -- you need unity of purpose if you are going to get anything done. they were chanting about the notion that the occupy movement is male-century. -- male-centric. they had a chance that that it t
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mean 99% men. you have people rending this garment of unity. >> you always find there are divisions. we have written about the fact that the camp in bloomington was run by women. the unity is around a core messages of the movement. the leadership of a movement drives people batty. where are the leaders? it is more of a leader-less movement and the new left was when you have a lot of gusy in power. it is not one place. there is a unity of issues. ending inequality, making people
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pay their fair share of taxes, finding a way out of the student debt slavery, finding ways to keep people in their homes, stopping the evictions, making sure that those who got us into the economic mess, the bankers and wall street, be held accountable -- and getting money out of our politics. [applause] >> one place you want to occupy for sure is the white house. goldman sachs, these guys are continuing to run economic policy. it is goldman sachs. i am sorry. they're all goldman sachs alums. the bill back to goldman sachs. they go back into government. -- they all go back to goldman sachs. they go back into government. it is a white house issued. >> this goes back to the media
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in a way. i will go back to goldman sachs if i must. remember in august when there were about 1200 people doing civil disobedience around the white house protesting the keystone pipeline. the corporate mainstream media was like this on that. imagine if 1200 tea party members hitched themselves to the date of the white house. when occupy launched in september in new york and then moved across the country, suddenly there was more attention being paid to other movements. it exposed how the media has done such a disservice to this country in the last few years by saying there was one movement in this country, the tea party. there are many other movements. the occupy wall street movement
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has brought into sharper relief and force the media to pay attention to other issues and movements. i could take off 10 or 15. -- tick off to enter 15. they've been toiling in the fields. now there is a space. i am not saying we will see movement into a new universe tomorrow. but there is a space now for new ideas and people who are more receptive. there's more receptivity to issues that were closed off. the media played a role in that. >> the media is not playing that helpful of a role, generally speaking. we defended the proposition of mainstream media in new york a couple of years ago. the reality is the attention span is quite short. >> that will be a problem. there is an interesting conflict.
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>> the nation is not un- mainstream media. it has been around for a long time. you say it is minority ideas pushing the nation. minority ideas get a hearing in "the nation." everybody has a blog. is there such a thing as a minority idea? >> minority idea comes from the fact that there are issues that do not get the attention they deserve. part of what "venation" tries to do is drive issues into a national conversation that are off the radar. we did a special issue 34 years ago called "the new inequality. -- we did a special issue
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three or four years ago called "the new inequality." i would like to publish agait again. there was a tough piece about ronald lauder's management strategy. the occupy movement is moving "the new york times) to cover issues like that. that is important. critical mindedness is also what "venation" is about -- "the nation" is about. >> what single thing has come of
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of the -- out of the huge wikileaks document that has made a fundamental change in people's lives? >> i think it plays some role in what we're seeing in the era of uprisings. it played a role. we're doing a project of drilling down beyond the headlines. it has played a role in moving people to see some of the backroom dealings of u.s. foreign policy. it has exposed people to think harder. i do think it played a role in leading people in tunisia and egypt to look at some of the cables and see what people already knew in their gut the soccer field in wikileaks about the alliances between u.s. foreign policy with the most repressive elements in those countries.
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let's hope that changes as the uprisings continue. anytime you can learn more about what is being done in our name, it is critical. that is part of what transparency is about. the freedom of information act is still not working well under the obama administration. some of that is pos/t 9/11. in los war will lead to a decline in information transparency access. anytime you can have less sequence -- secrecy, that is good. less secrecy is needed. it was handled at the outset by
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partnering with newspapers like "the guardian," traditional newspapers of distinction. wikileaks released documents around the world to newspapers in india, haiti, the middle east, latin america. it has had an impact in countries we do not know enough about. we're doing a project with six editors in latin america to look at how wikileaks has played a role in their politics. >> the media got distracted by the personality issues with julian assange. it is a fascinating, dark, twisted story, whatever is true. " people got obsessed with it. >> that is what happens. >> we have a cover story on the
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kim kardashian wedding now. [laughter] >> you have to pay the bills. the serious side of kim kardashian. >> i do think it is a problem. we are undertaking a project next year, the kind of project inspired by the works project to have the team across the country of writers, artists, documentarians, photographers to document poverty in this country. it is the 40th anniversary of the book "the other america." we have this human-resources, people who want to do the project. they can do it in a way to tell the human stories. human stories are key. we can use the human stories to
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tell the story about the structural problems of poverty in the country so it has more than just a human interest quality. it could lead to change. it could lead to hearings. politically, it has resonance. millions of people are now squeezed in the middle class. they are feeling a check or two away from near poverty. there is more openness to think hard about what has happened in a country that is the richest country in the world. this is where we try to reset the and narrative -- reset the narrative, the idea that america is. . it is not broke. our priorities are broken. there is a misplaced obsession
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with debt and deficits as the national emergency of our time. that has driven the story line inside the beltway. we did a story on how the austerity cost rules washington. it is a portrait of think tanks, philanthropists and others who have framed in a way so it is hard to tell an alternative story. that has shifted a little because of new voices and forces emerging from the 99% or what ever you want to call it. >> you had better have twitter and facebook involved in the project. >> we do, absolutely. we have all kinds of new media. i agree you need to use all of that. it has been a very powerful force.
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we use all of that at "the nation. " we have a correspondent right about this in a politically. at occupy wall street in new york a few miles from our office, one thing that struck our correspondent was how many young people came to the square and were caught up in conversations, talking to people and the general assembly's, conversations. so many people have lived in front of their laptop or been part of the new media that the ability to communicate and talk and sit around -- you cannot do it all the time, but that has been lost. you need the online organizing, but you need offline, too. encampments

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